What is the difference between low intensity and high intensity farming?

Gareth MorganEnvironment

A few weeks ago Ron Pellow from SIDDC showed us how dairy farmers might be able to reduce their environmental impact while maintaining profit.

Farmers have been under fire for their increased use of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE). Most recently Greenpeace have been hammering away, labelling the use of PKE ascontributing to the Indonesian forest fires which are currently engulfing the country. Apparently in three weeks the fires have released more CO2 than the entire German economy does in a year.

This might be a long bow to draw, as PKE is a by-product of the main industry there – palm oil. Still, PKE has its problems – it has been shown to alter the make up of the milk cows produce, and its use has been associated with more intensive farming, which has damaged our waterways.

In recognition of these issues, recently Fonterra established guidelines for the use of PKE, recommending a maximum of 3kg per day per cow. The rationale is to protect New Zealand’s image as a maker of milk produced from cows grazed on grass. Some farmers have reacted angrily to the new guideline, presumably because they currently use much more PKE than that. This raises the question – can farmers reduce their use of PKE without hurting profit?

Some farmers are achieving this using ‘low intensity farming’ – which means having fewer, well-fed cows living off the grass grown on the farm. In this video Ron Pellow talks us through how SIDDC are implementing this approach on their commercial demonstration farm in Lincoln.

What is the difference between low intensity and high intensity farming? was last modified: November 11th, 2015 by Gareth Morgan
About the Author

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.